Encouragement For The Brokenhearted: Part 5

Logo

“Elaine, I have to pick up Daddy from work. I don’t know what’s wrong, but his boss called and said he found him crying in the back of the warehouse.” I was 21 years old, and my father had an emotional breakdown. My sister and I were unaware of what had been happening in our family. For us, this marked the beginning of a difficult 5-year journey that ended in our parents’ separation.

I grew up in the church. My whole life my parents were in ministry. They were responsible for teaching me the ways of the LORD and inspiring me to love God and live devoted to Him. How could this happen? How were their hearts so hardened? How did the enemy creep in and attack our family in such a big way? It was so complicated and devastating.

As a 26-year old, I never thought my mom would call me to tell me she moved out of the house and might be speaking to a lawyer about a divorce. Unfortunately, I’m not alone. I have many young adult friends who were not only raised in Christian homes but in ministry homes, and their parents are divorcing. As adult children we find ourselves in an odd, heart-breaking place.

I know this might not be the first verse you think of when you want to be encouraged or encourage someone in their trial or brokenness, but God so used Psalm 119:71 to help me renew my mind in such a dark, confusing season. “My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to Your decrees.” This pain was good for us. All along God’s heart was breaking with ours, but He knew that if we chose to allow it, it would be the very thing that would bring us closer to Him and each other – the thing that refined us to be more like Jesus.Elaine Moore2

Through this, the Gospel came alive to me more than ever. I had to love my dad though he was doing unlovable things. Through this experience I was greatly humbled; no one is immune to anything, any sin or temptation affecting them or their family. Through this, I became more aware of things I needed to do/not do in order to safeguard my marriage against such trials. All of these things were actually blessings, and, by God’s grace, my parents have since reconciled, and our family is truly closer than ever.

Are you finding it hard to see the good in your pain? Know that God is so loving and faithful that He even uses affliction to draw us nearer to Him, to purify us to be more like Him and even to bless us. I pray you let Him in; let Him do this not so it’s easy or painless – but to do a beautiful work in your life, as well.

What has God allowed in your life to draw you closer to Him?

Encouragement For The Brokenhearted: Part 4

LogoMy dad stood six feet, five inches tall and weighed 240 pounds. He was a large, imposing man but in many ways he was the gentlest soul you’d ever meet. And even though I stand close to 5’11” tall, I was incredibly intimidated by him.

I became well acquainted with grief when I was 18 years old because within two months of my high school graduation, my dad was given the cancer sentence. Acute Myelogenous Leukemia, to be exact. My father’s body was being overrun by a cancer of the white blood cells. My dad’s 8-month battle with cancer was arduous and difficult – for all of us. He seemed so tired, so defeated, so broken. And on March 21, 1990, after many complications, he took his last breath and was ushered into the presence of Jesus.

I was thrown into adulthood with his death. It wasn’t that we were incredibly close, but now I no longer had the option of asking for his advice and opinions as I ventured into my college and adult years. I would miss out on having him at special occasions like my college graduation, my wedding, and the birth of my sons. Oh, he would have loved his grandchildren.

I’ve lived more of my life without an earthly father than I did with one. I have forgotten so many things about him and often try to take myself back to the days when he was still with us. If I concentrate real hard, I remember the days on the lake with my dad pulling my brothers and me on water skis. I can remember him taking my mom and dancing with her in the living room. I can remember him sitting in the stands at all of my sporting events and choir concerts.

Out of that experience, I came to know God in a new way.  Since I was 8 years old, He’d been my Savior and my Lord, my comforter and provider but at that time, He truly became my Father. The scriptures are laced with references of Him being our Heavenly Father. I love that 1 John 3:1 says that He lavished His love on us. But I suppose the verse that has comforted me and come true for me is Psalm 68:5, which says, “Father to the fatherless, defender of widows – this is God, whose dwelling is holy.”

I would have never asked for this experience – to become a partial orphan at the age of 19. But I can tell you now, well over two decades later, that had this not happened, had my dad not gone home to Jesus, I might not have known God as the Father that He is.

Cindy Beall1Maybe you are feeling overlooked, abandoned or lonely right now. You feel that no one sees you, no one cares and no one will comfort you. Not only does Psalm 68 say God is a Father to the fatherless and a defender of widows, it also says that He places the lonely in families and sets the prisoners free.

Friend, God sees you. He has not forgotten you. You have not been overlooked by Him. He is intimately acquainted with your entire being – hopes, fears and dreams. He is the only constant in our lives. He is the only One who will never leave us or forsake us no matter how many lies our feelings try to get us to believe. Stand on the promises of God above all else.

Who has God become to you in your life through your hardships and trials?

 

Encouragement For The Brokenhearted: Part 3

LogoWhen we first moved to Las Vegas, I immediately made a connection with a new friend. I mean the throw-my-baby-shower and have-lunch-at-my-house-once-a-week kind of friend. It was great. I was so thankful and relieved to have made a connection so quickly. Over the years, the church grew and changed. New people sat in the seats, and a new core started to emerge. For people who had been around a long time and deeply loved the church, it was difficult to see it morph into something they didn’t necessarily recognize.

One blistering hot July afternoon, I walked to my mailbox, feet literally burning through my thin flip-flops. I weeded through the stack of junk mail to find a letter. An actual personally written letter, can you imagine? The excitement was short-lived; I opened the envelope to find a letter from my friend – yes, my baby-shower-throwing friend. It was two pages of pain. Each line felt like a new punch to the stomach. Outlined in great detail were all the reasons she and her family were leaving the church, most unfortunately based on untrue gossip. A copy of this letter had also been mailed to each of our elders’ homes. Seriously?! Not a meeting to talk about concerns? Not an inquiry into what was really going on? Nope. I just received this gross letter, which felt eerily similar to the sort of hideous breakup text a fifteen-year-old boy might send. Sending such a letter is just something you don’t do.

My emotions ranged from raw woundedness to absolute fury, vacillating back and forth for days. One night while I was standing at the sink washing a mound of dirty dishes, the hurt was welling up, and my heart was broken. When suddenly Galatians 1:15 came to mind:

“But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace.”

I tossed a handful of forks into the sink and said out loud, “They can say whatever they are going to say. But they cannot take our calling, and they can’t have the joy that we find in it!”

Lori Wilhite1Don’t let critics take your calling. It’s been said that many people leave ministry because of a handful of critical people. Don’t let someone or even a handful of someones steal the calling that Almighty God has placed on your life. They cannot have it. Cling tightly to the mission and leadership God has given you.

Don’t let critics steal the joy from ministry. Sure, ministry is tough. It would be easy to come up with a list of the tough stuff. But, oh, there are so, so many things that are wonderful. There is so much to celebrate, enjoy and love. Don’t let the negative challenges of life and leadership overshadow the great things God is doing. Don’t let them steal your joy.

God has put you in this place and in this moment. He will not leave you alone. As you cling to the calling He has on your life, He will not abandon you.

What are some ways that you combat the critics who have broken your heart?

Encouragement For The Brokenhearted: Part 2

LogoAs many of you know, the road to motherhood is a very rewarding experience, but sometimes that same path can be a painful journey. I always knew I wanted to have babies and find myself knee deep in sippy cups, onesies, pudgy fingers and wet kisses. However, I never expected heartbreak could accompany that journey to being a mom.

When our first son, Jett, came along I knew I wanted another baby to follow pretty quickly, so my husband and I began trying again. My second pregnancy started out smoothly, and I immediately felt a connection with the new life growing in me. Since I had already walked through one healthy pregnancy, we actually announced this pregnancy pretty early in my first trimester to our church family. Everyone was so excited to see our family grow.

As I was ending the dreaded first trimester and headed into the blissful second trimester, complications ensued. I’ll never forget a visit to the bathroom that began to give clues that something was going tragically wrong.  Upon visiting my doctor, I was quickly taken in for an ultrasound and as soon as our baby came on the screen, I knew there was no flutter of a heartbeat, that the pregnancy was over, and our baby was now in heaven.

I was heartbroken. My body had failed me, and I hadn’t been able to sustain and grow that precious life.  Our family had gone from a family of four back to a family of three in just a few short moments. The life that I had envisioned of holding, feeding, cuddling and snuggling no longer existed here on earth. At times the physical pain accompanied by the emotional pain was just too much to bear. “Why had this happened?” and “What could I have done differently?” were constant questions that tortured my heart.

During my recovery I was blown away at the amount of love and support I received from our church family. Initially, I was so angry we had announced this pregnancy early, and now everyone knew my pain. Everyone knew my body had “failed.”  I was going to have to answer painful questions and look into people’s sympathetic eyes… Why couldn’t I just process this pain alone? I tend to be a private person.

My preference is to feel my heartbreak alone and to cry out to God from the comfort and privacy of my home. I’m not sure if it is because of who we are in leadership or how I am wired that I choose seclusion; it’s probably a mix of both. But processing pain when I feel like people are watching tends to overwhelm me.

If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath. Psalm 34:18

Brandi Wilson1God remained faithful and didn’t want me to process my loss alone, He wanted me surrounded by the love of His people.  Instead of sympathy, I received empathy. Empathy from other women who had felt a loss similar to mine and knew my pain.  It was probably the first time I personally learned the power in hearing someone say “I have been there too” and knowing I wasn’t alone in the heartache I was feeling. Instead of questions, I received an over abundance of love in the form of handwritten notes, meals, hugs and shared stories.

I was brokenhearted, but I wasn’t alone. God was faithful in allowing me to recognize other families had felt the same loss. That even though my baby didn’t have an earthly arrival, he/she was loved and known.

About two weeks into my grief I remember distinctly thinking, I am so glad I am not alone in my grief. I am so grateful God has surrounded me with such a loving group of people who want to walk through this pain by my side, who want to hold me up when I feel like I am falling. What initially felt like a “mistake” with our early pregnancy announcement became a blessing as I processed the grief I was feeling by being loved by so many and that my grief was known by other women.

How has a shared story with another helped you walk through a painful heartbreak?

 

Encouragement For The Brokenhearted: Part 1

LogoEach time, I told myself that I would not allow my heart to be broken again.

And then…it was broken, again and again and again.

That’s the thing with heartbreak…it can happen often and in every area of our personal lives, our work lives, and yes, even in our church lives.

At least, it has happened that way with me. The moment that my grandmother’s heart failed, and she died unexpectedly; my heart was broken. The pain felt when my best friend decided we weren’t friends anymore; my heart was broken. My first marriage to an unfaithful husband that ended in divorce; my heart was broken. The miscarriage of our first child after Tim and I were married; my heart was broken. The people who seemed to “love” our church would “leave” our church without explanation; my heart was broken. Terminal illnesses of people in our church family whom we adored; my heart was broken.

I wondered if I would always experience these heartbreaking moments? Was there a way to be protected from feeling that gut-wrenching pain imbedded deep within my hurting heart? Especially being a woman in ministry who was supposed to lead others THROUGH their own heartache?

The answer hit me like a ton of bricks. I found it in the Bible in the lives of Jesus and Paul and Sarah and David and the woman at the well and so many more in scripture. These historic people in the Bible, just like you and me, ALL experienced heartbreak. Over and over again.

Through their example, I reframed the question.

It was no longer, will I experience heartbreak ever again? The question was now, how will I get through the heartbreak?

Maybe you have asked this question a time or two.

Here are 3 ways to help you get through when your heart is broken:

1 – Grieve the hurt.

It’s okay. Give yourself permission to “feel” those emotions when you’re heartbroken.

Jesus wept when His friend, Lazarus, died. David became angry with those who betrayed him. And Mary was in anguish as she watched her Son being nailed to a cross. I can’t even imagine that pain.

Linda Seidler 1Our heartbreak hurts, and it is real. So it’s important not to ignore it and push it under the rug but to work through the hurt to eventually be able to move on from it.

I cried and cried when our baby miscarried because my heart hurt so deeply. Eventually, through the process of time, I was able to think and talk about the miscarriage differently than when it happened, knowing that I was healing as I was grieving. I love what Psalm 147:3 says, “He (God) heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.”

It is sometimes in the process of going through our deepest pain where we can see the presence and strength and love of God the most.  So take time needed to grieve the hurt knowing that it’s okay not to be okay as long as you’re on your way to being okay.

2 – Gravitate toward God.

It’s so easy to pull away from everyone and everything when we hurt. But you have to be careful not to build a wall to separate yourself so that no one will be able to hurt you, because behind that wall, no one will be able to help you either.

“Heartbreak” means to be crushed with sorrow or grief. And when our hearts are crushed, we can become distant, especially from God. But some of our most intimate moments with God happen in the midst of our darkest moments of heartbreak and intense pain.  

Psalm 34:18 says this, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”  Did you see that?! God is close to the brokenhearted, and he wants to rescue you. He sees your hurt. He knows your pain. He understands your heartache. And when you are drowning in despair, He throws out a life raft. You just have to reach for it and hold on tight to get your head above the water so that you can start to breathe deep again. And keeping your head above water takes perseverance and stamina. So don’t give up, and don’t stop reaching.

Stay reminded that God, who created your heart, is the same God who will heal it.

3 – Ground yourself in the Truth.

Our best defense in dealing with a broken heart is to have a good offense. And knowing God’s word is the key to doing that. It gives us foundational truths, provides a source of strength, encouragement, and helps us to clarify any confusion in our thoughts.

In the moments when I’ve been so hurt and so broken and literally wanted to give up and give in, I reflect on a verse such as, Isaiah 43:2 that says, “When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up—the flames will not consume you,” and I am reminded of God’s power in my life and how I can get through this, and it empowers me! Isn’t that so good?!

While God’s word will not keep you from being heartbroken, it will help you stay strong when you are heartbroken. In your deepest pain, God will be your healer, and in your sadness, He will be your my comforter.

So in your lowest moments, ask God to show you the truth in His word and lead you and teach you in the midst of the heartbreak.  He truly wants to give you the answers because His desire is for you to end up stronger than you were (Psalm 25:5).

Please share… How have you been able to get through your most heartbreaking moments?